Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 10:35 UK

Skeletons uncovered in friary dig

More than 50 skeletons have been found at the site

Archaeologists in Perth have uncovered more than 50 skeletons at the site of a medieval friary.

The team is excavating land at the corner of Riggs Road and Jeanfield Road before retail units are built.

As well as the bones, the team has discovered pieces of grave slabs, window glass and further evidence of the 13th century Carmelite friary.

It is hoped that once the finds have been processed and catalogued they can be displayed in Perth Museum.

During a previous excavation in 1982 about 20 skeletons were found at the site.

Archaeologist Derek Hall said: "Perth had four friaries - Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan and Carthusian.

"They were taking advantage of the fact that Perth in the medieval period was a very rich Scottish burgh.

"So, they were able to exist outside the town limits and people used to pay the friars to pray for their souls and if they wanted they could also get buried in the friary burial grounds."

The Carmelite friary which is being excavated was called Tullilum, it was founded in 1262 and stood until the Reformation in 1559.

Mr Hall was also involved in the 1982 excavations when they discovered the eastern end of the friary church and the east range. However, it was the skeletons which intrigued him.

The team are due to spend the next three weeks at the friary

He said: "Probably the most unexpected thing is the amount of burials that we found that are all post-Reformation - that means they're all after the friary's gone - because there was no record of this site being used for burials that late on.

"So, I've no idea what they're doing here, but there's certainly quite a few of them and they seem to be buried in family groups."

This time around the team uncovered even more remains of people and the buildings.

Mr Hall said: "We have good evidence of the rest of the friary church - I think we have all of it in our main trench.

"We have the cloister, which is the covered walkway, part of the west range and the very edge of the east range, so we've got a pretty good feel for the layout of the friary complex.

"With regards to the finds, we're getting painted window glass from the church, occasional shards of pottery, iron nails, but most of the finds so far have been the human burials."

The archaeologists will be working at the site for about three more weeks - lifting the skeletons - before the site is covered over for building work to begin.

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